Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
In this new feature, I will spotlight team-ups that I find peculiar, interesting or otherwise worth sharing with you all.
Today, we take a look at a 1949 team-up between Batman and famed radio personality, the Ol’ Professor himself, Kay Kyser and the Kollege of Musical Knowledge.
Kay Kyser was a very popular bandleader in the 1930s and 1940s who had a radio show called The Kollege of Musical Knowledge. It was a mixture between a concert program and a quiz show. It was a massive hit. Kyser starred in a bunch of movies based on the program. Kyser was a fun-loving guy with a whole lot of cool catch phrases. He really knew how to work a crowd.
In Detective Comics #144 (drawn by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris and written by an unknown Batman writer), a bad guy is on the run. He goes to rob a passing motor car when he recognizes who is in the car (and get ready for one of those coincidences that Golden and Silver Age comics were built upon)…
Luckily, Kyser is a clever fellow…
Now Batman has to defeat the bad guy’s agent. But Batman doesn’t know anything about hep music trivia!
Luckily, Batman decided to take a page out of the Lance Armstrong page book and, of course, cheat!
Batman (with Kyser following for some reason) tracks the bad guys down, but after Kyser accidentally knocks Batman out with a wind instrument, the two are captured and placed in a room slowly filling up with deadly gas. Luckily, Kyser freed some putty from the floor and saves the day with some musical instrument knowledge…
I am astonished by how well they integrated Kyser into the story. It feels like it was written by a real fan of his work. Sprang’s likenesses were great.
Interestingly enough, Kyser retired from show business roughly a year after this issue came out. That is likely why he has not remained as famous as similar notable bandleaders from the time period, as they kept going throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Kyser passed away in 1985.
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